Today is September 18, 1931, at least in China, where the 80th anniversary of the incident which unleashed the Japanese Imperial Army to break off the entire northeast from the Republic of China and, a few months later, proclaim it an independent garrison state named “Manchukuo” which was justified on rhetoric of ethnic harmony and propogation of the yen bloc.
It’s usually a sign that something else is going wrong, or that the CCP is worried about something other than international relations with Japan, when an anniverary like this one gets such big billing. Sure, 8 is a important in Chinese numerology, and Manchukuo was a huge deal, and there was a pre-stimulant to bringing all this back online earlier in August in Heilongjiang, but this commemoration is much more state-driven than “demanded by the people.”
I was at the September 18 memorial museum on August 15, 2011, the anniversary of an important victory in the War of Resistance. In spite of the fact that 8-15 is the logical and victorious feel-good anniversarial antipode to 9-18, the September 18 museum was closed on August 15, and the sidewalks and concrete plaza were being redone, clearly in preparation for today. Clearly for the CCP it is more expedient in this case to pump up the original offense by the Japanese. And thus the focus on September 18. There is a great deal more that could be said about the leadup to this commemoration and what it all means, but in the meantime it should suffice to note its occurence and the broad, country-wide, mobilization to remember the date which included, according to my friends in Sichuan, a long five-minute siren cry in the major cities of that province, as it did last year on the same date.
According to Kyodo News, who surely had people on the scene (as they did, and as was I, on the Marco Polo Bridge on the 70th anniversary of that incident in 2007), about thirty youth in Shenyang chanted insults at Japan and burned a Japanese flag outside the museum. For Huanqiu Shibao’s propogation of this news inside of China (no photos, however), click the photograph below.
The day and the actions are headline news on Huanqiu.com, so clearly thirty boys burning a flag in Shenyang is much more to the taste of the censors than a few thousand closing a chemical plant in Dalian, and for obvious reasons.
As long as the action remains small and doesn’t prevent Japanese investors in Dongbei, the tremors can ripple out and we can all gather once more around the image of the once-disgraced Generalissimo or the presently-strong Chinese Communist Party, whose underground resistance to Japan in Manchuria in 1931-32 was about to be eviscerated not by some counterinsurgent stroke by Japan’s Marshal Petreaus (Okamura), but by an inner-Party purge known as the Minsaengdan Incident.
Don’t worry, CCP, I have taken your advice to heart, and will never forget the Angus Ward Incident! When it comes to foreign plots in Shenyang, an American telegraphing his State Department masters in Foggy Bottom in 1948 would be every bit as significant as September 18, 1931, except that you, Party of Parties, had the foresight to prevent the reconstitution of the Japanese Empire under American aegis after the Reverse Course in Japan, for Tojo’s dream and animating spirit, as I have learned so well, was essentially transferred into that otherwise Victorian-Bismarckian skull of the Anglo conqueror MacArthur in 1948. And thus the Angus Ward Incident should also be celebrated, like August 15, as a mark of pure success in the growth of China’s regional and global power, and as a step away from the politics of humiliation that, like a particularly consequential dog bite, should be remembered as often as possible.
And once more into that good breach…